Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined elected officials and educators at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) to encourage students to apply to the Cyber Service Academy scholarship program, which grants students free college in return for public service in the Department of Defense (DoD). Senator Gillibrand was joined by Mayor Robert Palmieri, NYS Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon, Utica Common Councilmember Celeste Friend, President & CEO of the Griffiss Institute Heather Hage, MVCC President Randall VanWagoner and MVCC Assistant VP for Learning and Academic Affairs Tim Thomas.
Gillibrand created the Cyber Service Academy scholarship program through her work on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Successful applicants are provided a scholarship covering the full cost of tuition, select books and fees, a stipend, purchase of a laptop, and more. Successful applicants incur a service commitment which starts after the awarding of their degree; individuals will serve in roles throughout the DoD for a period equivalent to the length of their scholarship. Areas of study include cybersecurity, cyber operations, digital and multimedia forensics, computer crime investigations, and more.
As of 2022, there were nearly 40,000 unfilled public-sector cybersecurity positions, and the tech workforce that our government does have is quickly aging out. Just 7 percent of federal employees in computer science, computer engineering and information technology positions are under 30.
“There are nearly 40,000 unfilled public-sector cybersecurity positions, leaving our country with a severe shortage of cyber personnel needed to protect ourselves from adversaries like Russia,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Cyber Service Academy will create a pipeline for a talented, highly-trained cyber workforce, granting one year of free college for every year of subsequent public service. Mohawk Valley Community College is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity and I encourage students to apply, earn free college and serve your country.”
“Training our residents to combat cyber threats is both a public safety issue and an economic opportunity. The City of Utica aims to build opportunities across all sectors to both develop and attract the best talent in America. Mohawk Valley Community College is well positioned to build those opportunities, our residents are equipped to take advantage of them and our private industry needs the workforce. Senator Gillibrand has been a champion for growing opportunities in this region, from nanotechnology to housing and cyber security – her leadership is helping to make this region a leader in technical careers,” said Mayor Robert Palmieri.
“We commend Senator Gillibrand for passing legislation to establish the Cyber Service Academy, which aligns perfectly with Mohawk Valley Community College’s mission to provide a holistic education that prepares our students for the challenges of today’s interconnected world. Cybersecurity is not just a concern for governments and corporations; it affects every individual who interacts with the digital realm. Our commitment to cybersecurity education extends to all our students, regardless of their chosen field of study. Whether you’re studying computer science, business, healthcare, or any other field, cybersecurity literacy is essential in today’s world,” said MVCC President Randall J. VanWagoner, Ph.D.
“We are deeply appreciative of Senator Gillibrand’s visionary leadership in advancing the Cyber Service Academy initiative. At Mohawk Valley Community College, our unwavering partnerships with local, regional, state, and federal stakeholders, particularly our longstanding collaborations with Assured Information Security, Griffiss Institute, and the NSA’s National Centers of Academic Excellence network, highlight our commitment to pioneering innovation in cybersecurity training. These initiatives not only offer diverse pathways to quality employment but also strengthen the essential workforce responsible for safeguarding our nation’s critical systems. With the Senator’s Cyber Service Academy imitative, we are confident in our ability to accelerate our efforts in this vital field,” said MVCC Chief Strategy Officer Tim Thomas.
“We are incredibly grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in championing leading-edge cyber talent in the Department of Defense through her National Cyber Service Academy proposal,” said Heather Hage, President and CEO of the Griffiss Institute. “We agree with the Senator: our region has what it takes to step up and support her efforts to foster and grow a diverse, world-class cyber workforce in our nation’s military and intelligence services. The Griffiss Institute is proud to work with Mohawk Valley Community College and SUNY Polytechnic Institute as part of a growing cyber talent ecosystem anchored in the Mohawk Valley that includes the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Advanced Course in Engineering, DoD VICEROY cyber leadership program, and the Air and Space STEM program. Our nationally recognized cyber workforce programs are not only integral to the Pentagon’s cyber mission, but they also attract the best and the brightest from around the nation to the Innovare Advancement Center in Rome giving our region a tremendous competitive advantage to cultivate cyber talent. That is why we think that the Griffiss Institute and key partners such as MVCC are well-positioned to lead a future National Cyber Service Academy.”
Mohawk Valley Community College is one of 19 New York institutions eligible to offer the program because of its designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity. A full list of schools can be found here.
Interested students should go to www.gillibrand.senate.gov/cyberacademy and click on the DoD Cyber Scholarship Program link to apply. This page will continue to be updated as the DoD refines its application process. Open enrollment starts November 1st.